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The e-newsletter of the Sussex Family History Group

Family history societies: what's in them for me?

For those of you who are not members of a family history society - and perhaps even those who are - have you fully explored their resources and how they can help you with your research?

Meet others with similar interests on a mutual self-help basis

Most societies hold regular meetings: these usually have an expert as guest speaker but, perhaps more importantly, attendees also get the opportunity to obtain help and advice, and to meet others with similar interests, on a mutual self-help basis. A bookstall is usually available, giving the opportunity to peruse and buy the latest book titles. Some societies also organise day schools, conferences and courses; as well as being interesting and entertaining these will help you to extend your level of expertise. Many societies organise trips to The National Archives and other record repositories. Some societies have research rooms containing general family history sources, plus transcribed records, indexes and sometimes historical material relating to their area of interest. Admission to these research rooms is usually free for members.

Most societies produce a quarterly journal containing articles about life in the area, articles describing local records, information about local indexes and what's new or happening in the area. These journals also list members' research interests.

Family and local history societies have for a number of years been transcribing and indexing local records, such as census returns, parish registers, monumental inscriptions, poor law records, apprenticeship indentures, settlement examinations, land tax assessments and quarter sessions order books. Much of this work has been published in various formats including books, fiche and CD and is available to purchase or is available on the internet.

Federation of FHS <> SFHG

News from Bognor ...

The Bognor Regis meeting centre now meets at the Gallery Room, The Regis Centre, Belmont Street, Bognor Regis, PO21 1BL. Meetings are on the second Thursday of each month, 7.15pm for 7.30pm. Tea or coffee available.

Their next two meetings are:
10th April: Lesser-used sources for Family Historians - Jane Le Cluse
8th May: The Courts of True Love (Church Court Depositions) - Peter Wilkinson

... and from Horsham

The Horsham meeting centre is, for the next few months, meeting at the Millennium Hall Community Centre, Crawley Road, Roffey, RH12 4DT. Meetings take the form of an informal discussion and are held on the second Tuesday of each month, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Tea or coffee available.

The topic for the next meeting, on Tuesday 8th April, will be boot and shoemakers. Do you have any in your family?

See the SFHG website for programmes for all meeting centres.

History Day

SFHG will be holding a Family & Local History Day at the Fishbourne Centre, Blackboy Lane, Fishbourne, West Sussex, PO18 8BE, on Saturday 17th May from 10am to 4pm. Free admission and parking. Refreshments available. The Roman Palace is about half a mile away.

The SFHG bookstall will be present plus other stands including a selection of family and local history societies, particularly those from south west Sussex and south east Hampshire. There will also be a display that we hope will be of particular interest to beginners; plus our team of advisers will be there to help you to solve your research problems.

Come and discover more about your family and local history.

Out and about in June

SFHG has been invited to participate in the Weald & Downland Museum's 'Horses at War: Remembering WW1 & WW2' event on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June. The weekend of displays, re-enactments and demonstrations commemorates the centenary of the First World War as well as 70 years since the D-Day landings. It especially looks at the role played by horses on the front line and on the home front.

As part of a 'military ancestry road show' experts will be on hand to help identify medals, uniforms, photos, war records or other ephemera from your family's military past and reveal what these items say about your relatives and their military history.

Something rather different the following week will be the Children's Parade and Charity Fair in Steyne Gardens, Worthing. SFHG will be taking part in this event on Saturday 14th June - and maybe attracting some interest in family history from a younger cohort! The fair runs from around 10am to 2pm with the parade arriving about 11.15am.

Record your day for posterity

The SFHG's Brighton & Hove meeting centre recently had a fascinating introduction to the Mass Observation Archive and its material about everyday life in Britain. The archive contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation and newer material collected since 1981. The archive is now housed at The Keep as part of the University of Sussex Special Collections.

In 1937, its first year of operation, Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did on 12th May, the day of George VI's Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain, and have become an invaluable resource for those researching aspects of the era.

The Mass Observation Archive is repeating this call on Monday 12th May 2014. The resulting diaries will be stored in the archive alongside the 1937 documents. The day is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for researchers the 'ordinary' can often provide extraordinary results. Therefore, they would be very grateful if you could document your diary of the day for the future. See the Mass Observation Archive website for details.